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Showing posts from February, 2014

Oh Great, Employers Want Older Job Seekers' SAT Scores

Just when you thought you'd finally left high school behind, employers are ready to bring you right back to the heady days of rampaging acne, embarrassing fashion choices, "mean girl" cliques, and filling in the oval completely with a No. 2 pencil. SAT takers still use pencils, don't they? Yes, some employers want your SAT scores now, when no one has asked how you did on the SAT for at least 20 years! Can we please make it stop before it really begins? From The Wall Street Journal:Proving the adage that all of life is like high school, plenty of employers still care about a job candidate's SAT score. Consulting firms such as Bain & Co. and McKinsey & Co. and banks like Goldman Sachs Group Inc. ask new college recruits for their scores, while other companies request them even for senior sales and management hires, eliciting scores from job candidates in their 40s and 50s. Question #1: With all things equal, if a job applicant makes it to the third roun…

Woulda, Shoulda: What's Your Biggest Career Regret?

What's the biggest regret you have about your career up to now? Ah, come on! You know you have one. We all do. Let's walk down the Woulda Shoulda Coulda Cul-de-Sac together! I see it everywhere as a Gen Xer. My generation is suddenly old enough to be able to look back and reflect on our career paths. Perhaps "obsess" is a better verb to use. We should have done this, we could have gone there, we would have been a contender, if only. Such thinking, however, can easily become an endless loop if we're not careful. Pondering the past on repeat play can start to drive us into the mental ditch (or cerebral Cul-de-sac, if you prefer) and make us less effective in the present. Know that you're not alone in wondering "what if." Every single one of us has at least one, big career-related regret, and anyone who denies having any professional regrets is probably lying. Without further delay, here are a few common, career-related regrets, followed by a bit …

Employees Keeping Busy Thanks To "Boredom Snacking"

Bored at work? Chances are 50/50 on any given day that you may be bored out of your ever-loving mind, because there isn't always enough work to go around in this recession. Instead of grabbing new clients, we're grabbing another cookie. Forget the Great Recession; today's employees are smack dab in the middle of the Great Expansion! A new survey from yogurt brand Fruyo finds many employees are snacking "al desko" at work and we're not going for the organic celery and carrot sticks, if you know what I mean. No, we want the GOOD STUFF, and it's ruining our new year's resolution to lose weight. You'd think employees are snacking due to high-stress levels, but Fruyo reveals that 41% of employees surveyed snack purely out of boredom at work. We're incredibly bored, so we eat. Eating is something to do. So what are employees grazing on during work hours? Cookies are our number-one "go-to" snack at work, because we have snack machines, …

Should Employees Get Dressed Down For Not Dressing Up?

Many employees have taken the phrase "let's keep it casual" to heart as they bound into the office modelling their best California casual wear. Every. Single. Work. Day. Casual Friday is now Very Casual Friday Through Thursday. Well, the San Francisco Superior Court is dressing down its 400 employees for failing to dress up for work. In fact, court employees are getting written up for it. Forget looking ahead to Fall 2014 fashion trends; we're just hoping to see our professionals in pressed pants and button down shirts today!The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the court has had "what to wear" rules on the books since at least 1996. Court employees are now being reminded of the rules. T-shirts, hoodies, short shorts, yoga gear, "thong-style" sandals, jeans? Not acceptable. Tie and suit or skirt or pantsuit? Acceptable. Oh, and please remember to wash your hair regularly with shampoo and then brush it afterward. When was the last time you clea…

Your Motivational Self-Talk Works Better In Third Person

I know I can! I know I can! I know I can! It's the simple mantra that drives the classic children's book The Little Engine That Could, and as an adult you've adopted this mantra as your own on the job. Or adapted it to your ongoing job search, as the case may be. But do you know that you're saying it all wrong? University of Michigan researchers looked into how we tend to self-talk our way to motivation and success by asking study participants to give a five-minute speech. They discovered that study participants were more self-motivated, and more successful overall, when they talked themselves through things in the second or third person. Now repeat after me: You know you can! You know you can! You know you can! Apparently, distancing ourselves from ourselves through purposeful pronoun usage is the key to a successful internal dialogue, the linguistic linchpin that will keep us from languishing in the middle of today's very important PowerPoint presentation! Who …

Should Debt Collectors Be Able To Visit the Workplace?

We're sitting at work trying to get something done that isn't personal business when a total stranger suddenly walks up and starts talking about our personal business. Say, for example, how we're getting behind on our credit card payments. Oy. Sending terse letters and/or leaving automated voice messages on personal phones is so last year, because credit card issuer Capital One's updated customer contract opens delinquent card holders to potential workplace visits, apparently? At least, according to a story in today's L.A. Times. I'm going to ask a few workplace-related questions here. Namely, can Capital One really do this, and might other companies follow suit down the line by also reserving the right to make "personal visits" to customers at their places of employment? Hey, read the fine print. We can stop by your office now. It's in the new customer agreement! One way or another, they're gonna find ya, maybe next week, they're gonn…

Worried Workers Are Avoiding Workplace Support Programs

A new study finds employees who think their jobs are at risk are more likely to avoid workplace well-being and support programs. Can we call a Code Blue on workplace morale, stat? Organizational behavior and human resources management researchers at the University of Illinois tells us something that really isn't very surprising but warrants a friendly, occasional reminder: We're more shy to max out our workplace benefits and risk looking like takers instead of makers when we feel like our jobs are at risk. We know that we're a bottom-line liability to the company instead of a top-line asset, and as much as we might feel we contribute to the company on a daily basis we still know that our paychecks are essentially red ink on the company spreadsheet. So we want to minimize our expense to the organization as much as possible. Plus, for a variety of reasons we may not want the company to know that work stress has us verging on the edge of an anxiety disorder, or is exacerbat…

How To Write Off the Grammar Police At Work

You say or write something at work, only to have a co-worker pull up quick* to correct it. Congratulations, you've just been stopped by the workplace grammar police! So how will you write off this co-worker's dangling modifier of an unwelcome grammar lesson? We've all been there. We write something online or say something in spoken conversation when...someone (either anonymously or known to us) feels the urge to point out our mistake in a haughty, "You are aware that you've just misspelled a word and/or mangled the entire sentence, aren't you?" kind of way. Apparently, no one taught us that it's "your" instead of "you're," it's pronounced "zero" (as in "6-zero-9") instead of "oh" (as in "6-oh-9"), and it's "loser" instead of "looser." Oh. Yes, your co-worker-turned-part-time-spell-checker and workplace grammarian certainly has the ability to make you feel l…

10 Ways We're Becoming Our Depression-Era Grandparents

Our disposable income is dwindling as our bills keep increasing. Oh wow, the cable bill just went up another $8 per month? Oh, "convenience fees" again? Riiiiight. Meanwhile, those of us who still have a job in this economy are trying to dress for the jobs we want instead of the jobs we have. What if, however, we can't afford to dress the part? A few second-hand items and shirts from the clearance rack might slip into our wardrobe here and there, and we have to find a way to sustain our winter shoes through yet another harsh winter. We learn to trim our own hair, and perhaps even to color it ourselves. A lot of us are faking it until we make it through this recession. Along the way, we're falling back on some very old, penny-pinching concepts that our great-grandparents relied on during the Great Depression. Only today's younger generations are making these very old, cost-saving concepts sound waaaay cooler by assigning trendy new buzzwords to them. Would yo…

Game On: Are Video Games Creating Mean Employees?

Hey, guys! Put down your game controllers for a second because I have some breaking bad news for you. A new study claims that playing a video game villain even for a short amount of time can lead us to start punishing people in real life. Please play nicely with us, phone-based customer service reps! A new University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, concludes that playing a video game villain for JUST FIVE MINUTES can lead us to start being not-so-nice to those around us in real life, especially the people we don't know very well, if at all. The researchers divided nearly 200 college students into groups and had them assume an avatar that was either villainous, heroic or "neutral," which presumably means the avatar was neither naught nor nice but rather somewhere in the middle. As each group played their respective roles, the researchers asked individual players to leave e…

Office Romances Rock If Your Workplace Is Like College

A new study of romance at work finds your co-workers will be more cool with you dating a fellow co-worker if your workplace is laid-back like a college dorm. Yeah, but what about bromances*? Oh, and the news of your epic office romance will be taken better if you deliver it to your co-workers IN PERSON rather than allowing the news to be delivered via, you know, office gossip, social media, making out in the parking lot behind the dumpster, or letting the CEO speak. Otherwise, you may run the risk of having to explain everything in a semi-distressing fashion like you work for AOL or something. Wait, AOL is still in business**? Anyway, the workplace romance study is from researchers at DePaul University's College of Communication and the University of Texas at San Antonio. It's entitled "Love at the Office? Understanding Workplace Romance Disclosures and Reactions from the Coworkers Perspective," and it appears in the Western Journal of Communication. So let's t…

Do Your Co-workers Think They're Too Good For Cubicles?

It's no secret that work spaces have been shrinking and cubicle walls coming down over the last decade as companies shift toward trendy open office environments that offer all the privacy and leg room of economy class. But what if you think your prestigious profession, job title, and/or pay scale should automatically entitle you to a seat in business class? The other day, I saw a topic pop up online along the line of: I'll be earning $140,000+ a year in a prestigious, white-collar job and my employer wants to put me in a cubicle! A CUBICLE!!! Nooooooo! Sigh. Any under-employed, or unemployed, readers of this blog post may now bang their heads in unison against the nearest wall. If it makes you feel any better, the anonymous poster was largely smacked down by other commenters who effectively said: "Get over yourself already, everyone gets a cubicle now. Everyone. And I earn more than you do. That's the modern, shrinking workplace, just deal with it and be very th…

Workplace Trends: The High-Tech ID Badge

You think you'll slip into the company restroom for a down-low moment of "me" time. Well, you can soon flush that idea right down the toilet because Hitachi has created a new "high-tech ID badge" that not only tells the boss where you are, but also relays information as to what kind of mood you're in while you're there. Oh, man. How many more hours until quitting time? Hitachi's new Business Microscope device fills management in on all your most interesting and irritating workplace moments. No, I take that back. It fills management in on ALL your workplace moments from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave the office, assuming you ever really leave the office now that 70 hours is the new 40. The Business Microscope can tell the boss with whom you've spoken today, how long you've been sitting at your desk, and when you last trekked to the office vending machine. It can also tell the boss how "energetic" your conversations a…

Want to Land More Gigs As A Freelancer? Then Do This

How can you land more jobs as a freelancer? Well, new research from freelance job site Elance.com claims to have the answer. Everyone's a freelancer these days because they can't find real jobs. Yes, a certain percentage of freelancers choose to become career-long, card-carrying members of the free agent nation because they prefer it that way, but now they're competing against newbie freelancers who are only freelancing "for now" until they find another full-time job working the man (or woman) with a 401(k) match. Case in point: Journalism. Journalists are a dime a dozen these days (literally!) thanks to free web content, celebrity columnists who don't need the money but think it would be "fun" to write high-profile stories, and continual layoffs. Every time a bell rings, a journalist gets his walking papers. Yes, I know this does not rhyme. Many freelancers are finding competition stiff and pay rates in the toilet. That's why I've given…

Breaking News Alert: Facebook Is A One-Way Conversation

Facebook turns 10 years old today, and a new Pew Research survey tells us what we already know in regard to our one Facebook "friend" who writes a status update on the fives. Yeah, that friend. Hey, those TV reruns don't watch themselves, you know! Facebook has more than 1.2 billion users. That's a lot of people, but get this: only 10% of us write a status update every day. This means that 90% of us aren't saying much of anything at all, if we even bother to look at Facebook now that our grandparents have an account. So. Uncool. Roughly 15% of us see a photo posted to Facebook and think more than once a day: "Okay, I'm-a gonna give it a 'like' for reasons I don't fully understand -- he gave me a 'like' the other day, so backatcha, buddy -- but I'm not gonna bother to comment on the photo because that's way more effort than I'm willing to expend right now." On the other end of the online spectrum are the 4% of Faceb…

Unnecessary Roughness! Dealing With Sports Fans At Work

All your Seahawks fan co-workers are gliding into work ready to gloat about their personal accomplishment in winning a Super Bowl. Hey, it takes a lot of chips and guacamole to armchair quarterback your way to a Super Bowl win, and Seattle hasn't won a Super Bowl, well, ever. I was raised by a flock of continually-frustrated Seahawks fans who were always thisclose to the Super Bowl playoffs if it weren't for those biased refs. Now the Seahawks are Super Bowl champs! (Yeah, I was surprised, too, not that I was paying close attention.) And for today -- and tomorrow, and probably for the next 12 months -- your Pacific Northwest pals aren't going to let you forget it. They've been waiting for this day for a loooooong time. Just check your Facebook news feed for proof. Thank Facebook for the "hide" feature. But what happens when we can't hide from a sports-gloating co-worker on the job, whether it's professional football, college basketball or Little Le…